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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Friday - July 30, 2010

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Determining whether a wisteria is native in Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

If a wisteria is blooming after the leaves are out (there are a couple of blooms right now, in July), is it a sure sign that this is a native Texas wisteria?

ANSWER:

Hey, in Nature nothing is a sure sign of anything, and Mr. Smarty Plants is not going to get pinned down on that one. American wisteria, Texas wisteria and Kentucky wisteria are all the same plant: Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria). All we can do is refer you to our page on that plant by following the link, where you can read about its appearance and characteristics. You will note on that page that it blooms in May and June, and only on new wood.

Next, we will do some research and find some information on the non-native wisterias, Chinese wisteria or Wisteria sinensis. The link will take you to Invasives.org, Center for Invasive Species and  Ecosystem Health. You will quickly learn why we do not like non-native species in our gardens from this website, which has several links to other websites on the plant. Of particular interest among those websites, we thought, was from the USDA Forest Service Weed of the Week. According to that site, Wisteria sinense blooms in April and May.

You didn't say how long you have had the plant; if it has been there for a while and hasn't overgrown the house, any trees around, and children, you probably have a native. If it is newly planted, and purchased from a local nursery, you may be in trouble. If it starts showing fast-growing, invasive characteristics, kill it while you're still bigger than it is, and most especially, don't let it go to seed. It is a legume, and has long seed pods which, spread by animals, people or wind, will soon have all your neighbors mad at you, too.

Pictures of Wisteria sinense from Google:

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

 

 

 

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